SMF Terminology

From Online Manual

Jump to: navigation, search

Administration Center (term)

The Administration Center is the control area for the entire forum, allowing the facilitation management of all aspects of the forum. It consists of the following sections: Main, Configuration, Forum, Members, and Maintenance. Administrators and membergroups with the required permissions will be granted access. The Administration Center can be configured so that users are asked for re-authentication before entry.


The Administrator, or Admin, of a forum is the person with full control over the forum's functions, appearance, and general configuration. This person has access to the Administration Center where they can configure the forum as they wish.

The Administrator can add or remove Permissions, customize the forum's appearance, assign Moderators and other staff, and many more things inside the Administration Center.


Avatars are images that members select to represent themselves online. They are shown in profiles and beside every post or personal message. Other members use the avatar to easily identify a member. Commonly avatars are abstract images, photos of celebrities, or pictures of cartoon characters, not a photo of the member.

Administrators use Attachments and Avatars Manager in their Adminstation Center, to can control who can set and change the profile, and whether they can select from a list, upload an image, or link to an offsite avatar. They can set policies on avatar upload file size.


In an SMF forum, Boards are where topics are posted. Boards are displayed on the board index and should be organized into categories to make it easier for viewers. A board that appears inside another board is called a child board. A board with child board is called a parent board. Administrators set who can see and post to the board and set other board options.

Board index (term)

The Board Index is the central part of the home page of the forum. This is where you will find a listing of all the categories and boards that you are allowed access to. The exact appearance of the Board Index is affected by the options chosen by the administrator, as well as by the theme. For more information, see Board Index

Buddy list

A Buddy List displays all of the members on the forum whom you have added as a “buddy”. This list will also show their online status and contact information if available. If your administrator has enabled the buddy list, you can work with your buddy list from your profile.

Bulletin board code (term)

Bulletin Board Codes (BBC) are square-bracket tags used to format posts. They are commonly used to format font size, color, bolding, and decoration, and to include images, lists, tables, and links in a post. Example: bold text, using the bold tag, is produced with [b]Bold[/b]. For more on Bulletin Board Codes, see Bulletin board code

Calendar (term)

The calendar feature, if enabled by the administrator, can be found from the Main menu of the forum. It can be used to record events, and can also display birthdays (from member profiles) and holidays. Administrators can configure the calendar via the Calendar Administration and choose which members can create events in General Permissions. From version 2.0, a mini-calendar displaying upcoming events is available.


Categories contain boards and are displayed on the board index. They can be used to create subject headers to organize boards and make it easier for viewers to find their way around. Categories contain only boards, never topics or other categories. The administrator can enable category "collapse" which allows you to hide categories that do not interest you.

Child board

A child board is a board which is located within another board -- the board it is in is called its parent board. Child boards can be used to organize discussions into several broad topics. Child boards are listed directly under their parents. in places such as the search page and the jump to boxes.

Custom Title

Custom Titles is optional text that may appear beneath a member's name in every post or personal message. If the administrator allows members to set this title, the member may add/change their custom title from within their forum profile. When the custom title is changed, that change will appear even in old posts and messages.


All SMF posts, topics, members, settings, calendar entries, etc. are stored on the database. Backup the database frequently in case it is damaged. See Requirements and recommendations for more about the type of database you need Forums using SMF 2.0 and up can use MySQL, PostgreSQL, or SQLite database to store all of the data on the forum, while SMF 1.0 and 1.1 forums may use only MySQL.

Database setting

In order to connect to the database used by your forum, SMF must know the hostname or IP address that the database server is running on, the database name, a username and password with appropriate permissions to access the database, and whether or not to use persistent connections. These options are defined in the database section of the Server settings section of the Administration Center.

Default theme directory

The default theme directory, /Themes/default, is the directory in which the SMF default theme can be found when SMF is installed. Theme #1 in the Themes List will always point to this directory. You can change or replace the files in this directory, but this might cause problems when modifications or upgrades that expect to find the SMF default theme in the default theme directory. You may set your forum default theme to a different theme from the one in the default theme directory.


The SMF Files are organized in directories (sometimes referred to as folders). Directories can contain files or other directories (subdirectories). Complicated collections of directories and their subdirectories are often referred to as directory trees or directory structures. When placing or replacing files in an SMF installation, it is important to place them in the correct directories.

Display name

The display name is the name visible to other members on the forum. It can be different from the username which is used at login. When a new account is created, the display name and username are identical. If the administrator has allowed it, a member may change the display name from his or her user profile.


Calendar events, or just events, are user posted calendar entries.

Unlike holidays, these are usually tied to a topic for the purpose of discussion, but as of SMF 1.1 they can be independent of any topic. They can often be helpful in coordinating real-world events in many situations, or reminding people of upcoming happenings.

Events can only be posted, seen, and modified when the calendar is enabled. The number of events you can have posted is limited to about 65,535 by default, but this limit can be raised.


A forum is an online discussion site where participants can hold conversations by posting messages. SMF is forum software. In SMF, the forum contains categories, categories contain boards, boards contain topics, and topics contain a topic post and several reply posts. The terms used to describe how other forum software organizes message topics may be different.

Forum default theme

The forum default theme is the theme that members see the first time they log in. It is the theme that guests see. It is set by the administrator as overall forum default theme. It can be any one of the forums themes. It could be the same as or different from the theme in the default theme directory, and it could be the same as or different from the SMF default theme.

Forum header

The forum header is the section at the top of every page on your forum. It includes everything from the top down to just above the main menu. In SMF 1.1.x and SMF 2.x, some of this can be shown/hidden with the header-collapse icon (Upshrink2.png in SMF 2.0).

Global moderator

A Global Moderator is a member who can moderate every board on the forum. At installation, SMF comes with a Global Moderator membergroup. Every member that the administrator assigns to the global moderator group will have global moderator permissions. The administrator can change the permissions for the global moderator group. A global moderator is different from a local moderator, who is able to moderate only specific boards to which they have been assigned.

Group moderators

Group Moderators are members that can manage a membergroup. Group moderators have access to the moderation center from where adding and removing members can be carried out. From the moderation center, group moderators can accept and decline requests to join a membergroup (Profile > Group Membership).

Please note that for a member to be able to request membership for a group, that group must be set to request in the membergroup settings.

Although being able to add and remove members, group moderators do not have the ability to change a group's name and online (or display) color. These permissions stay solely with the administrators.


A guest is using the forum but is not logged into. A guest can be a person or a spider. Guests cannot have a profile or notification options that are available to members. Therefore, people who plan to visit a forum consistently will usually choose to register and login. The administrator can choose to forbid guests from viewing any part of the forum.

IP address

An IP Address is a unique number that identifies a forum user's computer on the internet. Users can see their own IP Address under their posts and in their profile. The administrator can see every user's IP address. The IP address can be used to ban a troublesome user (member or guest). Because many users' ip address changes frequently (dynamic IP address), and because other users use proxy servers that cause multiple users to have the same IP address, it can be difficult to pinpoint one user with an IP-based ban.

Info center

Warning: Display title "Info Center" overrides earlier display title "Administration Center". The Info Center is located below the board index. Contained in the Info Center is a collection of information about the forum.


Karma is an optional feature that shows the popularity of a certain member. The administrator can enable this from core features. When members are allowed, they can Applaud or Smite a member to raise or lower that member's karma.

Language file

Contains all of the text strings used in an SMF forum. The use of language files allows the forum to easily be translated into other languages or for individual text strings to be modified by editing just a few files and without having to sort through source files to find the appropriate line.

Local moderator

A local moderator has permission to moderate posts on just one board of a forum. The administrator sets local moderators for each board at modify boards. A local moderator need not be a member of the global moderator membergroup.

Locked topic

A locked topic is no longer open for replies or modifications to its posts. The administrator can give members permission to lock or unlock topics that they have started. Members cannot unlock their topic if it has been locked by a moderator.


To login to the forum, enter your username and password. If you do not have a username and password, you must first register. If you have not logged in, you are a guest Once you log in, you are recognized as a member. To learn more about logging in, please see Logging In

Main menu

The main menu is the major navigation tool for the forum. It includes a number of menu buttons. With the CURVE theme, it looks something like Mainbuttons 02.gif

Maintenance mode

When maintenance mode is enabled, only administrators have access to the forum. Other users will see the forum header and the main menu, but won't have access to any part of the forum. Administrators use maintenance mode while doing tasks such as: forum upgrades, backups, restores, installing and uninstalling themes and modifications. For more information, please see Maintenance mode.


Warning: Display title "Member" overrides earlier display title "Info Center".A member is a person who has registered at a forum. It is usually beneficial for a guest to become a member if they intend to post or use the forum more than once. Members always belong to at least one membergroup.

Membergroup (term)

A membergroup is a group of members. Every member of a forum belongs to at least one membergroup. Forum permissions are given to membergroups. This means that the membergroups you belong to determine most of what you can see and do on the forum.

Message index

Warning: Display title "Message Index" overrides earlier display title "Member". The Message Index is the listing of topics that you will see inside a board. On the top of message index you will see the child boards inside the parent board you are viewing if there are any.


Moderation means using moderator tools to improve communication on the forum. The tools available include locking topics, splitting and deleting posts, and moving and merging topics. Exactly when to apply these tools will vary from forum to forum.


A moderator is assigned to a board by an administrator. Unlike a Global moderator, a moderator does not have permission to moderate outside their assigned board(s), and is a regular user outside the board(s) (s)he moderates.

Moderator is a special membergroup, which is located in the permissions section of the admin panel. An administrator can also use this to change the permissions assigned to moderators.

To make a member a moderator please see Moderators - How do I assign members as local moderators.

Modification (term)

A modification (also called a "mod" or "package") is a package of files meant to be used to modify the files of an SMF forum. Modification packages can be installed using SMF's package manager. A package can contain any of the file types used in SMF (php, html, javascript, CSS, image files, etc.).


Forum news can be used to display news items on the forum header of every page of the forum. The administrator enables random news line or news fader in the settings of one or more themes, and enters items in the News tab.


A newsletter is a message sent to forum members by PM or email. Newsletters can be sent to all members, to specific membergroups, and/or to specific email addresses. Newsletters are sent from Newsletters.


An SMF package is an update, modification, theme, or graphic pack that can be installed through the SMF admin panel. Modifications and upgrades are installed through the package manager while themes are installed through Theme Manage and Install.

Parent board

A parent board, is a board that contains at least one child board. When you view the board index of a parent board, you will see the child boards listed first, followed by topics of the parent board.

Patch (term)

Patching is moving from an earlier version of SMF to the next version in the same series (e.g. from 2.0 to 2.0.1). For more information, see patching

Personal message

Personal messages (or pms for short) are messages sent by one member directly to one or more members, rather than being posted to a topic. SMF makes provision for only the sender and recipient to view PMs, though the messages are stored on the database. Up to 4,294,967,296 may be sent on your forum.


A poll is used for surveys or voting. It is a message accompanied by a multiple-choice question, created using the New Poll button, or by using the Add Poll button at the bottom of an existing topic. Members, if permitted, can reply to the topic as well as participate in the polling.


A post, is a message posted on a board. It can be a topic post or a reply to a topic post. It is different from a personal message. You can have up to 4,294,967,296 posts on your forum.

Post count based membergroup

Members are automatically assigned to a post count based membergroup depending on the number of posts they have made. As members' post counts change, they are automatically moved to the proper post-count based groups.

Post count based membergroups can be hidden on profiles and posts for members who have been placed into a primary membergroup via the current theme section of the administration center.

Upon installation of an SMF forum, the Post-count based membergroups are

  1. Newbie
  2. Jr. Member
  3. Full Member
  4. Sr. Member
  5. Hero Member

The "Newbie" membergroup can neither be deleted nor have its 'Required Posts' value changed. Its name and all other details can be altered in Administration Center > Members > Membergroups > Edit Membergroups.

Post-Count based membergroup

Members are automatically assigned to a post count based membergroup depending on the number of posts they have made. As members' post counts change, they are automatically moved to the proper post-count based groups.

Post count based membergroups can be hidden on profiles and posts for members who have been placed into a primary membergroup via the current theme section of the administration center.

Upon installation of an SMF forum, the Post-count based membergroups are

  1. Newbie
  2. Jr. Member
  3. Full Member
  4. Sr. Member
  5. Hero Member

The "Newbie" membergroup can neither be deleted nor have its 'Required Posts' value changed. Its name and all other details can be altered in Administration Center > Members > Membergroups > Edit Membergroups.

Profile (term)

A member's profile contains information about the member, account settings (such as display name, password, and email address) and forum viewing preferences. Members use these details to manage their own forum experience. Members may have permission to view other members' profile information. The Admin can see and edit profile information for all members.

Quick moderation

Quick Moderation makes the moderation actions accessible in the message index and it can enable the moderation of multiple topics or posts at the same time. The Quick Moderation actions can be displayed either by icons or by the use of checkboxes. For more information, please see Quick Moderation.

Quick reply

The Quick Reply box normally appears underneath topics allowing a member to post their reply on the same page as the actual topic, rather than having to select the reply button that leads to the posting page to add a reply.

Quick reply can be disabled, enabled, and enabled but collapsed by default for any members by applying their preference for it in their profile.

Administrators can also set the default display of quick replies by a per-theme basis (Admin > Themes and Layout > Member Options).


In order to be recognized as a member of an SMF forum, you must first register. Generally, you can use the Register button on the Main menu. For more information, please see Registering


A reply is any post in a topic other than the first post. If a moderator splits a topic into two, one of the replies in the original topic will become the topic post of the new topic.

SMF default theme

The SMF default theme is the default look-and-feel theme supplied with the SMF installation in the default theme directory. It may be different from the forum default theme. If you change the files in the default theme directory, then you will have something slightly different from the SMF default theme in that directory. This could cause problems when you wish to install modifications or patches. It may be better to leave the SMF default theme alone, create a copy of it, and make customizations to the copy.

Server setting

The Server Settings page is one of the most important of the Administration Center. Here, the database settings are defined, allowing SMF to connect to its database. The forum can be put into or taken out of maintenance mode on this page. It is also possible to specify the forum name, URL, admin email address and the path to SMF's location on the server on this page.


A Signature is some text that a member may choose to display below every post that they make. If you have permission to create a signature, you can create or change it in your profile. Bulletin Board Code can be used to format a signature. It is considered rude to use a signature that overwhelms the discussion in a topic. If you change your signature, you will see it changed in every old post you have ever made.


A smiley is an emoticon that is automatically replaced in the post by an image. For example, when :) is entered in a post, it is displayed as Smiley.gif, as long as smileys have been enabled by an administrator.


A sticky, or sticky topic, is displayed at the top of the Message index, and is generally identified by a thumbtack icon Sticky topic.png, or some other distinctive formatting. Sticky is used to call attention to rules or important information that should not get displaced by newer topics from the first page of the message index.


A template file in SMF is a file containing HTML and PHP code that operates the look of your forum. If you want to make adjustments to the layout of your forum, you would do this by editing the template files.

An example of a template can be found here:
Themes/default/BoardIndex.template.php - this template is used for the layout of the Board Index.


An SMF theme defines the look and feel of your forum. The theme sets the order the various elements appear on the page, what colour they are, and whether there are any interactive elements included. The same forum content might look very different when viewed using a different theme. The administrator installs and manages themes from Themes and Layout. For more information on what goes into a theme and how to create or modify a theme, please see Developing Themes

Theme option

Themes come with several options that members can set in the Look and Layout Settings of their profile. The administrator can also make several choices, such as whether to show members' avatars or signatures in their posts -- in the Member Options section of the administration center.

Theme setting

Theme settings are set by the Administrator, and cannot be overridden by the other members. These are set in Theme Settings and include the number of recent posts to show on the board index, whether to show forum news, and whether to show buttons as images or plain text.


A timestamp is a way of representing times in programming languages. Usually, this is a unix timestamp, expressed as the number of seconds since midnight on December 31, 1969. As an example, the timestamp of January 1, 2006 at 12:00:00 am is 1136102400.


Topics (often called threads) are collections of messages grouped together under a common title, intended to reflect a single topic of discussion. Topics may have polls and/or calendar events attached to them.

Topic display

Sometimes referred to as threads, topics are actually where you find posted messages

Unread posts

One of the most commonly used features is the Unread Posts page, which simple shows all unread posts since the user's last visit. Most themes have a link to this action in the userbox. A post is unread when either, you have not viewed the topic, there have been new replies to the topic since you last visited it, or you have selected the Mark unread link inside of a topic.

Upgrade (term)

Upgrading is moving to a more recent version of SMF by getting a fresh set of all the necessary files. It is used when moving from an earlier major version of SMF to a more recent one (SMF 1.1.x to SMF 2.0.x, for example). If you want a clean start with the same version you have now, take a look at How to upload a fresh set of files.


A username is the name used to login to an SMF forum. It is sometimes called the login name. It can be different from the Display name. When a new account is created, the display name and username are identical. If the administrator has allowed it, a member may change the display name from his or her Account Settings (labeled Name)

Who's online

Who's Online

At the end of the forum index, there is a section called Users Online. This is a list of users who have recently used the forum. This feature can be enabled or disabled, and the definition of "recent" changed from Features and Options in the admin panel.


chmod (short for change mode) is a command for changing permissions on files and directories. It is used only in servers with a Unix-like operating system, such as Linux. These permissions determine whether your forum's readers can see your site, and whether the SMF package manager can patch or replace a file. Warning: Display title "SMF Terminology" overrides earlier display title "Message Index".